Book Review: Kregel Charts on Paul

Kierspel, Lars. Charts on the Life, Letters, and Theology of Paul (Kregel Charts of the Bible). Kregel Publications, 2012.Charts on Paul

Kregel hits another home run with this book! This follows the same approach as Charts on the Book of Hebrews, which I previously reviewed. Like that book, this one provides necessary information in a readily usable format, which makes it ideal for detail study as well as easy for quick reference. For a pastor/teacher this is an excellent resource.

Content

The charts are extensive, well organized, and logical. There are four major parts:

A. Paul’s Background & Context
B. Paul’s Life & Ministry
C. Paul’s Letters
D. Paul’s Theological Concepts

The largest parts are appropriately the last two. But we cannot ignore the first two (Note: I am using shortened chart titles). Charts 1 (Roman Emperors), 4 (Roman Military Structure), and 5 (Greco-Roman Religions) are well worth having available when questions arise, but which the serious studies may not provide in summary form. Likewise Charts 7 (1st Century Judaic Groups) and 8 (1st Century Judaism Characteristics) provide more detail than some table formats permit. But in this case the format works well.

In Part B, Chart 11 (Parallels Acts and Pauline Corpus) is helpful. But I found the table a little confusing regarding the relationship between Acts 11 and 15 with Galatians. This might be one area in which the table/chart format fails to convey the challenges of such matching. Charts 13 (Jesus in Luke, Paul in Acts) and 14 (Peter and Paul in Acts) are excellent. I remember Robert Hoerber teaching using the same kind of tables 30+ years ago at seminary. Excellent charts! Chart 18 (Missionary Journeys) is another superb summary of critical information related to Paul’s ministry. Chart 19 (Coworkers) is helpful, but it seemed incomplete. That is, the author divides the references into Male and Female. The missing part would be to look at the various terms used and how that is used relative to male and female. I found Chart 28 (Names, Titles, etc.) very helpful, information often needed, but not often put together in one place. Likewise Chart 31 (Sufferings) is essential because suffering influences so much of Paul’s life and writings.

Part C For those using the Greek, Chart 35 (Manuscripts) sets forth an easy to understand and use reference list, in conjunction with Chart 41 (Arrangement of Letters). Chart 42 (Structural Comparison) is one of the best in the entire book! Charts 45-50 show the quotes and allusions of the Old Testament. Chart 47 also provides whether the quote is MT or LXX; Chart 50 gives the OT order of the allusions. Charts 51-52 extend the same for Intertestamental writings. In Charts 53-76 the author sets forth the snapshot of each letter, followed by a listing of key words in the longer letters. I was pleased to see Chart 62 (Ephesians and Colossians) because often this parallelism is overlooked; but both deal with the Church from two perspectives (Body of Christ and Christ the Head). The author uses Charts 68-73 to address the pastoral epistles and similarities as well as authorship issues (72) and relationship to Paul’s ministry (73). Excellent tools.

Part D is perhaps the most intense part of the book. That is, theology can be systematized and condensed, but this section assumes the most background knowledge. This is not a criticism at all. After all, this is a tool for serious students and pastors/teachers. I commend him for doing so in an easily understood manner (with the above caveat), organized, and compiled for maximum usability. For me the most important Charts are 81 (Christological), 82 (Pneumatological), 84 (Soteriological: Objective), 85 ( Soteriological: Subjective), 90 (Eschatological), and 92 (Ecclesiological). One area which I have just begun studying in detail is “Faith of Jesus” (Chart 89) and the controversy of translation as either objective (NAS) or subjective (NET). Helpful starting point for identifying the issues and texts. So also, Chart 111 (New Perspectives on Paul). Charts 96-107 present ethics and related topics as addressed by Paul.

In the Comments part at the end, Dr. Kierspel offers reasoning for decisions and how he understands the issues. And he provides specific bibliographic references for further study. This section is worthwhile for gaining insight into the whole enterprise.

Formatting

Titles of charts should continue on each page with the same chart (I.e. Charts 5 and 8, and throughout book). But interestingly in Chart 98-100, the headings continue on each page.Many of the charts have vertical lines that help guide the eye through the material. But some charts that could benefit from this do not have the vertical dividers (Charts 22, 23, 25, etc.). There is not Chart title/heading for pages 86-88.

These formatting issues are indeed minor and do not detract from this valuable resource.

Evaluation

In sum, this book should be in every pastor’s and teacher’s library. Any student of the Bible and Paul’s letters, in particular, will benefit from Dr. Kierspel’s meticulous and thorough work. Well done to Kregel and Dr. Kierspel for a top notch book.

Note: Thanks to Kregel Academic & Professional for the review copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.

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